Early Ford Car Club History
The History of the EFCC
How the EFCC started
Bob Saddler’s account of the founding of our Club.
On Saturday 18 March 1967, at 10 am, three men met at Cape Town airport to start up the new Club.
A committee was formed with Bob as chairman and two Ford men, John Roode of Parow (treasurer) and John Horne of Claremont as Secretary. The first official Club meeting was scheduled for Saturday 6 May 1967, same place, same time.
Things really started moving after a story on the new Club appeared in ‘The Argus’ during April 1967. By the next day, the Secretary had already received twelve calls from Model A owners around the Peninsula, all eager to join up.
By now the Club was running out of space at the airport lounge as well as in the parking area, and several venues were tried and tested as alternatives until The Italian Club in Rugby was selected. This became the Club’s home for quite a while until it moved on to the Hohenhort Hotel in Constantia.
In 1968, the very first car show was held at the Drill Hall, where 12 cars were put on display for a week, the proceeds going to the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.
Three Model A’s pitched up for the first meeting, in lashing rain and blasting wind. All in all there were ten people attending, including The Argus photographer. The rest of the committee were then elected, including N Aubrey as news editor who became responsible for a monthly news sheet.
The group relied heavily on specialised skills: John Roode had an extensive technical knowledge of Fords, John Horne knew a lot about vehicle identification, Raymond de Bruyn was always ready to help someone looking for spares, Koos de Wet had a Ford Diesel truck that was used to recover new vehicles for the Club (it even had a sign on the back reading ‘Another Ford recovery for the Old Ford Club, Cape Town’. Ken Blanckenberg would spot old cars in country districts while on trial flights in SAAF helicopters. Terry Scott of The Argus also kept his word and provided excellent press coverage for Club activities. It is no wonder then that the Club grew by leaps and bounds.
The very first social event took place on Raymond de Bruyn’s birthday. His wife, Shirley, had asked Bob’s help to organise a surprise party for him. The planned party remained a secret and Raymond had the surprise of his life when 3 Model A’s followed by a number of modern vehicles drove up and Club members bearing food, drinks and whatnot, trooped into his house. It turned out to be a roaring party.
The first dinner/dance was held in November 1967. The Constantia Nek Restaurant provided a set three course menu, all inclusive, for R2,00 a head!
In March 1968 Toeks Cross and Henri de Clerq entered a 1930 Sport Coupe in the International Car Rally from Cape Town to Durban. This was a most ambitious event in which the Club participated was codenamed ‘Operation Merrimaker’ by the Muizenberg Publicity Association. This was planned to coincide with the height of the holiday season in 1968 and featured a Mardi Gras atmosphere with marching girls, live bands that included a Dixie Land Jazz band playing from the back of an early V8 pickup and a drive past by vintage cars. Planning took ten months and eventually 19 shining Fords from 1923 to 1946 took part. the Club was featured on the front page of The Argus that Saturday evening and the organiser of the event was so impressed with the Club’s participation that he promptly joined the Club.
The Club was now 20 months old and had 32 members.
Some Club members also made sure the Club got the press it deserved: on 9 November 1968 The Argus carried the story of Ken Blanckenberg and his epic 4000-mile trouble-free trip around the country in his Model A. Ken, an apprentice aircraft mechanic at the time, had been transferred to Pretoria for a 2-month course and decided to do the trip in his 1930 Model A, providing 3 servicemen with a lift in the Ford. At the completion of his course, Ken drove to Durban and then back to Cape Town along the East Coast.
The recovery of vehicles and parts continued unabatedly. Often members would club together to find the necessary R50 or R60 to buy a restorable car, place an advert in the press to find a new owner who would then automatically join the Club. Bob related how Johan Marais and he, returning from such a trip to Prince Albert, stopped at the Ford agency in Laingsburg. The man behind the spares counter told them that they had just dumped a lot of New Old Spares in a disused dam behind the building. Jumping over the dam wall, they landed on a ‘mountain’ of parts. They collected what they could, but when they returned to Laingsburg at a later date, the dam was empty.
Membership increased steadily so that by 1971 it included 12 members in Oudtshoorn, 15 in Somerset West and 16 in Beaufort West. At the AGM held on 8 July 1972 at the Bay Beach Hotel, Three Anchor Bay, Bob Sadler stood down as Chairman. By now the Club boasted 76 members, owning among them some 140 Fords of which 49 were runners, the rest were under restoration.
Away weekends became popular with members ─ for 3 years starting in 1973, the Club visited Goudini Spa and thereafter Silverstrand Resort outside Robertson was used for a number of years.
On Sunday 22 May 1988, Chris Bauermeester, who was Chairman at the time, together with founder members De Bruyn and Saddler, met enthusiasts in Worcester with the objective of establishing a local presence for the Early Ford Car Club. According to a report of the meeting in the ‘Worcester Standard and Advertiser’ of 27 May, the Club had 332 members with 1728 cars by then. This number included Durban members organised in their own local chapter of the EFCC, as well as the Beaufort West group.
On 26 June 1988, a Sunday Club run to Villiersdorp brought the largest turnout of members and cars (130 people in 31 vehicles) in the Club’s 21-year history to the showgrounds for a bring and braai, followed by afternoon tea and snacks at the Waenhuis Restaurant in Villiersdorp. Members came from all over the Western Cape, some even from as far as Beaufort West.
At a historical AGM that was held in July 1975 at the Hohenhort Hotel, Constantia, the following proposed change to our Club’s constitution was discussed: that the name of the Club is amended to read ‘The Early Ford Car Club of South Africa’ (incorporating the Model A Ford and Post Vintage V8 Club). The Chairman read the proposal and invited comments from the floor. Rodney Wilson asked why ‘incorporating the Model A Ford and Post Vintage V8 Club’ had been included in the new name. The Chairman explained that certainly for the immediate future it was essential that the two names be linked in the minds of the public.
Ray Butters suggested that our proposed new name should indicate that non-Ford owners were also very welcome in the Club. The Chairman pointed out that the proposed name had in fact already been registered, but that it could be changed if the majority so wished. He did, however, agree with Ray’s sentiments and undertook to investigate some suitable slogan on our letterheads which would indicate to non-Ford owners that they were more than welcome. It was proposed by Joy Marais, seconded by Poon Rossouw and unanimously carried that the proposals be adopted. Well, thanks to Ray, Joy and Poon, cars such as Chevs, Studebakers, Hudsons and whatever name you would like to add, are part of the Early Ford Car Club today. It has made the Club more interesting and opened its doors to a far larger membership due to these historical changes.
Through the years there have been several proposals to change The Club name. It has, however, been impossible to do since SAVVA rules stipulate that there can only be one multi-make club registered in any main centre. The Crankhandle Club already existed as Cape Town’s first multi-make club. All other clubs registered with SAVVA in Cape Town, therefore, have to be single-make clubs ─ hence the Ford name will remain with us.
Spotlight on the Early Ford Car Club of SA
On the 7 May 1967 the birth of the Model A Ford and Post Vintage Club was registered (to be changed later to the Early Ford Car Club of SA), and the first official meeting took place at the then D.F. Malan Airport, (now Cape Town International) on that Sunday, attended by about six founder members: John Roderick, Frans Delhez, Bob Saddler, John Home, John Rhoode, and Ray de Bruyn.
This became the monthly venue for some time, and those were the days when parking was no problem at the airport and tea and scones cost 10c.
The Club got off to a slow start as it originally catered for Ford cars only. A Club emblem was a top priority, and I was given the task of having one designed. Having no artistic talents, I just took a front end photograph of my own Model A Ford and bribed the company artist to design something around it. The resultant design was unanimously accepted by the Committee, and this is still the Club emblem today.
Right from its inception, the Club encouraged family participation in Club events and this aspect of Club policy was largely responsible for the success of the EFCC and above all, the happy atmosphere and camaraderie for which the Club is known.
Regular monthly meetings were held, the venue later being changed to the Hohenort Hotel in Constantia were on the second Sunday of the month. Tea and scones and old car chatter were enjoyed by members. Any member who came without his family was immediately asked for an explanation!
Fun runs and treasure hunts were organised, and these were always great fun and well attended, so much so that the membership was increasing so rapidly that the Hohenort Hotel was unable to cater for us anymore and alternative arrangements had to be made.
One of our Committee members had some influence in the right circles and we enjoyed the excellent Clubhouse facilities at the Cape Showgrounds for a nominal fee - our ladies providing an excellent tea and sometimes catering for up to 200 people.
In July 1975, it was decided to change the Club name to The Early Ford Car Club of SA, as it was felt that the old name was too much of a mouthful and also gave the impression of catering only for the period 1928 to 1940.
On 14 June 1973, the Club became a Member of SAVVA whom we still enthusiastically support. We were quick to realise, as with all other vintage car clubs, the enormous advantage of belonging to such an organisation.
Although the Club started off as a one-make Club, it was quickly found that this was not practical, as many of the members owned a variety of makes, and although the name still gives the impression of it being a one-make Club the Club does in fact welcome all makes of cars.
Club newsletters were and still are sent out on a monthly basis - the very first ones being written by the Chairman himself on a sheet of foolscap paper. This was continued for some years, and it was only in January 1982 that our newsletter in its present attractive format was designed, and we find it a most acceptable means of keeping our members, particularly country members, advised of Club activities. Main functions of the year have become annual events and are always extremely well attended.
To sum up, the success of the EFCC lies in the fact that there is complete co-operation between Committee and members.
~ Raymond de Bruyn